I’ve always been fascinated by otters – all kinds of otters. One of my favourite books is “Ring of Bright Water” by Gavin Maxwell. Another otter book, “Tarka the Otter” written by Henry Williamson after World War I, which describes the adventures of an otter in North Devon, England, is on my bookshelf, too. My older son was captivated by Nathaniel Benchley’s “Oscar Otter,” and when he was three years old I had to read it to him over and over again.
The Arizona Sonora Desert Museum west of Tucson has a wonderful exhibit of river otters. You can watch them from above and also see them swimming through an underwater viewing window. It's one of my favourite places; I could watch them for hours.
When we camped on the
So it was with great dismay that I read in BBC Web News last Sunday that Toxoplasma parasites are killing off sea otters, according to Patricia Conrad of the
According to Dr. Conrad, cat feces carrying the parasites wash into
I'm also a cat lover, and I know how much cats love to hunt and prowl. However I believe it's definitely not a good idea to let them roam. Here in the desert, they can be taken by raptors, mountain lions, bobcats, or coyotes. And, as the article points out, they can fall victim to diseases when they hunt birds and small animals. Dr. Conrad is calling for owners to keep their cats indoors. She says:
“I know that's tough; I hate cleaning cat litter boxes as much as anybody. … But by keeping the cats indoors, we reduce the chance they're going to get infected by eating infected birds or rodents, and the chance they are going to shed their faeces outdoors."